The American Bar Association's ABA Journal has just jumped into the fray with a long article titled "The Rankings Czar." I think the article is balanced and fair and examines many critical issues about the law school rankings. Of course, the article has also been discussed by many bloggers, including Concurring Opinions, TaxProf, and Law Librarian.
A couple of points that I believe are worth responding to:
U.S. News still stands by its offer to meet informally or formally and work with law school deans, faculty members, and administrators to improve the rankings.
The article raised the question of why U.S. News doesn't release the names of law school academics who respond to the academic reputation survey that rates the other law schools. We have promised the respondents that we will not release individual responses and that we will publish only summary scores, and we plan to keep our word as journalists. It is reasonable to assume that respondents would be discouraged from answering the peer survey honestly if they had to account publicly for their opinions. We also don't know who actually fills out a survey: We know only, for example, whether the dean's survey has been returned.
Another issue that the article raised is the accuracy of the data that law schools submit. We take the accuracy of our data seriously. We have asked law schools to report to U.S. News what they report to the ABA on each law school's annual questionnaire (except for the at-graduation employment rate). This survey is used for accreditation purposes. It's hard to understand why law schools would not report their information accurately to both the ABA and U.S. News. After all, these are law schools that are educating prospective attorneys to uphold the law. In general, we think that almost all law schools do accurately report their data to us and that it's the exception for law schools to manage their data for ranking purposes.
The ABA Journal is going to host a Web forum on April 11 at which I will discuss the law school rankings and the articles. Please join in.